VISITING A GAY SAUNA: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW.
Gay saunas and bathhouses are the perfect places to enjoy safe sexual encounters. Click through to learn more about the best places to visit and a few etiquette tips to keep in mind.
Whether you call it a gay sauna, gay spa, or gay bathhouse, most men visit these places for hot, steamy sex. If hookup apps like Grindr or Scruff are not for you, there is no better place to seek some anonymous fun than at one of these establishments.
If you’re looking for a sauna that’s gay-friendly, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about what to expect, how to behave, and which bathhouses belong on your list of must-sees.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A GAY SAUNA OR GAY BATHHOUSE
Gay saunas are also referred to as sex-on-premises venues, so you can surmise what happens regularly. That said, being unprepared can catch you off-guard. Here are a few things you need to know before paying your first visit to a gay sauna.
TYPES OF GUESTS
Most bathhouse guests are looking for sex. Otherwise, don’t expect to see just one type of person! All gay saunas welcome twinks, bears, jocks, chubs, and all sorts of gay men.
Most gay bathhouses cater to men who want to have sex with other men. However, some guests visit to unwind or relax – they might go there to exercise, swim, or release toxins in the steam room.
When you first enter a gay sauna, you’ll be handed a towel and keys to a locker. You’ll then undress in a changing room and begin your gay sauna journey. Some good starting points for meeting people are at the hot tub or in the screening room, if your chosen gay sauna has one.
Since the 1970s, gay bathhouses have evolved from one large, dark, and cramped space to multiple facilities. Nowadays, your typical gay sauna will likely have the following amenities.
Most people start in the changing room, where you’ll also find your locker. Here, you can get free lube and condoms (unless your sauna doesn’t have them, in which case, you should bring your own).
From the changing room, you’ll move on to the showers, which are usually laid out in an open format. The showers are where most sauna visitors meet potential partners.
SAUNA & STEAM ROOM
If you’re looking for a place to sweat toxins out, head to the steam room. Not much usually goes on here – most guests simply want to unwind, though subtle advances are often welcome. Meanwhile, saunas offer dry heat, which helps ease the muscles and opens the pores.
You can get to know potential partners in the sauna’s jacuzzi or whirlpool, but sex is often banned for hygiene reasons.
As the name suggests, dark rooms are unlit – perfect for men who prefer to remain anonymous to their partners. Here, anything goes, but you’ll want to be diligent about using protection and asking for consent.
If you’re not a fan of group sex, you can rent a private room with a key. Most private rooms come with a mattress on a bench or pads on the floor.
Sometimes referred to as porn rooms, video rooms are perfect for people who need some visual stimulation to get started. Most of these rooms are shared for free, though select establishments may rent them out for a price.
Some gay saunas will also have a bar where you can grab a drink with a friend or potential partner. Some of these bars will even have a dance floor and the occasional live DJ.
GAY SAUNA ETIQUETTE TIPS
While gay saunas have the reputation of being a sexual free-for-all, some rules do apply. Always keep these etiquette tips in mind when visiting a gay bathhouse.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE SEX
While gay bathhouses are for sex, you don’t have to have sex if you don’t want to. Sometimes, you can simply indulge your voyeuristic side, take a dip in the pool, or hit the gym. Just remember that you’re in a gay sauna and to expect some advances.
PAY IN CASH
Most gay saunas only accept cash for discretion purposes. Always bring money if you plan to get a drink at the bar or access additional services.
BRING YOUR OWN SUPPLIES
Not all gay bathhouses are well-stocked. Err on the safe side and bring your own supplies, including flip-flops, lubricant, condoms, and a douche. Consider bringing a drawstring or waterproof bag to keep your valuables close.
ALWAYS ASK FOR CONSENT
While most gay bathhouses have an unspoken no-talking rule, don’t assume that you can touch anyone unsolicited. Most gay sauna guests will give you a “look” if they’re interested in you – they might make eye contact, smile at you, or give you a head nod. Learn to read these signals before reaching out to touch someone to avoid making them uncomfortable.
Don’t take it personally if someone rejects your advances in the same thread. Be graceful and find another partner.
PRACTICE SAFETY FIRST
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, you can’t be too safe – always use a condom. Most gay saunas will hand you a few upon entry. If they don’t, bring your own. Remember, not much talking happens in gay saunas, so you likely won’t be able to ask if someone has an STI first.
BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT SUBSTANCES
As the saying goes, “Never take sips of anyone’s Gatorade.” In other words, don’t accept drinks from other people. While not as common as it used to be, some spa-goers have been known to lace drinks with gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GBH), which can put you at risk of an overdose. Play it safe by bringing your own drink!
The same goes for other drugs – most gay saunas have a zero-tolerance policy, but you’ll still want to practice due diligence.
BRING AN EXPERIENCED FRIEND AS A GUIDE
Visiting a gay sauna for the first time on your own can be daunting, especially if you aren’t well-versed in bathhouse etiquette. Going with a friend who knows what they’re doing can make it easier to navigate rooms and avoid nasty situations.
LEARN TO READ SIGNALS
One of the most challenging parts of exploring a gay sauna for the first time is how to communicate with others. Since there are hardly any verbal exchanges, you’ll have to rely solely on non-verbal signals. You’ll know someone is interested in you if they give you a particular “look” – perhaps they’ll smile, make intense eye contact, or give you a head nod.
Other signs to look out for are open doors. Open stall doors indicate that the person inside is looking for someone else to join them.
Finally, how can you tell if someone is a top or bottom? Some men will position their keys or wrist bracelets in a specific way. Others are more straightforward and (with consent) touch the part of your body that correlates with what they’re offering (e.g., penis = top, buttocks = bottom).
TOP GAY SAUNAS & BATHHOUSES TO VISIT
If you’re a gay man looking for some fun, visit a gay sauna! That said, searching for a “gay sauna near me” can take up a lot of time – fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the best gay bathhouses in the country:
MEN’S SAUNA AT GAYTHERING
1409 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida
Located in the center of a Miami Beach gayborhood, the Men’s Sauna at Gaythering is one of the best-equipped gay saunas in Florida. With that in mind, you must be a guest at the Gaythering Hotel to access the sauna. This clothing-optional space has massage-jet jacuzzis, a beautiful dry cedar sauna, and a relaxing steam room.
450 E Compton Street, Orlando, Florida
With a tagline like “Athletic Venture,” you can rest assured that Club Orlando has one of the best gyms in Florida’s gay sauna scene.
Other than its workout facilities, Club Orlando is also famous for its diverse clientele. Here, you’ll meet men from all walks of life. Many guests are locals, although you’re bound to meet at least one other tourist looking to meet someone on holiday.
If you’re feeling sociable, you can play a game of water volleyball in the outdoor pool or sunbathe nude with a friend.
2107 4th Street, Berkeley, California
Unlike most gay saunas, Steamworks Berkeley is open 24/7, year-round. It’s most known for its wet zone, which boasts a large whirlpool, open showers, and a eucalyptus steam room.
Steamworks also boasts a dance floor and live DJ for Sunday Service, just one of its many special events. Other events include Boyz Night, where guys under 25 can get in for free!
You can sign up for a Steamworks membership under three tiers: regular, VIP, and student. Students get access to the sauna for free for 90 days.
EAST SIDE CLUB NYC
227 E 56th Street, New York
New York’s East Side Club NYC has been around since the 1970s and since become one of the most sought-after gay sauna experiences in the United States. This member’s club has multiple private cabins, an intimate steam bath, video rooms, and a lounge.
East Side Club NYC shares a building with the famous Lips restaurant, so you never know when you might run into one of the show’s drag queens!
2614 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas
Club Dallas is one of the most welcoming gay saunas in America. Its well-equipped gym is known for its no-*sshole policy, which makes it a safe place for gay, bi, and transgender fitness buffs.
Main amenities include a “Cowboy” whirlpool, video and private rooms, an outdoor pool, steam room, and lounges. Club Dallas is also a testing site for STDs and HIV. When you visit, expect to receive free condoms and safe sex resources.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 24, you’ll be pleased to know that you can get in for free!
FAQS ABOUT GAY SAUNAS AND BATHHOUSES
DO YOU HAVE TO BE NAKED AT A GAY SAUNA?
You don’t have to be naked at a gay sauna. Most gay saunas will advertise themselves as “clothing-optional, ” meaning you can wear clothing if you want to. However, most guests opt not to wear any clothing or will strip down jockstraps, thongs, and underwear.
ARE GAY SAUNAS FREE?
No, gay saunas are not free. Gay saunas typically charge an entrance fee between $10 and $30, depending on the amenities available. Some might have a membership fee that you can renew monthly, quarterly, or annually. That said, gay saunas that are part of a hotel might be free of charge for hotel guests.
ARE GAY SAUNAS ONLY FOR MEN?
Most gay saunas are men-only establishments. That said, orientation doesn’t usually matter – gay, bisexual, transgender, and pansexual men are all welcome at gay saunas.
DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE SEX AT A GAY SAUNA?
No, you don’t have to have sex at a gay sauna! Visiting a gay sauna doesn’t require having sexual encounters with other people. You can go to a gay sauna for different purposes like going to the gym, swimming in the pool, or using other facilities.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Gay saunas and bathhouses are everywhere in America, and the best way to enjoy them is to mind your manners. If you’ve spent too much time Googling “gay bathhouse near me,” we hope this comprehensive list has given you a place to start! Don’t forget our etiquette tips to ensure you have the best and safest experience possible.